We have a chair in our house. In fact, we have many chairs. But there is one chair that is special, it is THE chair and coveted by my 3 lovely children. It’s just a chair, same as the other chairs at the dining room table. But it is the placement of The Chair that makes it worthy of fighting over. It’s at The Head of the Table.
The Chair is normally the 11-year-old’s seat at dinner time. But, at other times, if he’s not sitting in it, then it can be anyone’s chair. Let's set the scene... In the mornings, the 11-year-old gets up first and has his breakfast sitting in The Chair. Then Miss 8 has her breakfast sitting in The Chair. No issues with the 6-year-old wanting it as he likes to spend half an hour rolling around on the floor whining about how his eyes don’t work and his legs are broken, before he is motivated to have breakfast. So this chair system usually works quite well. UNTIL THIS MORNING. Mr 11 was running late. By the time he got around to making his breakfast, perky Miss 8 was up and ready and sitting in The Chair having her breakfast. Oh god, here we go. 11-year-old “hey get out of my chair, that’s My Chair. Mum she’s in My Chair, tell her to get out”.
Miss 8 “no, I was here first” Me to the 11-year-old “just sit somewhere else would you?” 11-year-old “no, she knows that’s My Chair, and she sat in it to annoy me – I can tell she did it on purpose as she gave me a little smile before she sat in it”. This is quite possible, as, being a female, Miss 8 is a master at this type of thing. Damn, what do I do now? I need a Nanny. Or a wine. But it’s only 7.03 in the morning, so a wine is not appropriate. And I can’t see any Nanny’s walking up the path. I decide to pretend I can do positive parenting “hmm, so you both want the same chair? How can you guys work this out together?”. They completely ignore me and keep arguing. Fail. So I make a stand “right you two, there’s no breakfast until you sort this out!”. I whip their bowls away and hide them in the cupboard. That’ll teach them. I need to get dressed, and foolishly hope my absence will enable them to resolve The Chair issue on their own. I go to my room. And envisage having a wine. With my Nanny. I come back a minute later to find them both sitting on a half of The Chair each trying to shove the other one off. The 6-year-old think this is hilarious and is jumping up and down like a monkey, wanting to place bets on who will be shoved off the chair first. At least his eye’s and legs are working now. Me, “right, that’s it! I’ve had it - both go to your own rooms NOW and eat your breakfast in there! We’ll talk about this later.” The 6-year-old looks disheartened that the show has come to an end. LATER. In the car... “We need to sort out The Chair issue if you are both having breakfast at the same time. You have until we get to the bus stop to sort it out. Go….” Miss 8 “we should make it that I have the chair every night, and you have the chair every morning”. Hmm, this sounds like a fab idea. Good girl. 11-year-old “no way, because I want to sit next to Dad at night”. Damn. Daddy’s golden and made of sparkly diamonds. Everyone wants to sit next to Daddy at dinner time. No one wants to sit next to Mummy. 11-year-old “let’s make it I get the chair all the time and you sit in another chair”. Obviously this doesn’t fly. The 6-year-old tries to give a suggestion, bless him, but he’s told to shut-up by the other two. No one is saying anything and the bus stop is approaching. Me, trying to save the situation “right, I’ve got an idea, how about you take turns every other morning?” This seems completely radical and foreign to them (even though I suggest this about 13 times a day with various situations), but, luckily, they both agree. Miss 8 “ok, but I get the chair tomorrow because I didn’t get it today.” 11-year-old “saaahhhweet, cause that means I get it on Friday. THE BEST DAY.” Thankfully, Miss 8 doesn’t take the bait. I begin to breathe; we have a result. Then suddenly I hear a noise behind me – it’s the 6-year-old who suddenly wails “that’s not faaaaiiirrrrrr! I want the chair on Frrrriiiiiiidaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!!!!!" God help me.